Monday, July 16, 2012

Writers' Talismans

When I was in high school band, I had tons of auditions for various things -- All-Region Band, All-State Band, college admissions -- and they all terrified me. I always got so nervous. Hands sweating, the sudden urge to pee, dry mouth, the whole bit. (And let me just say, dry mouth isn't helpful when playing the trumpet.)

The one thing that kept me calm was my bag of talismans: colorful good luck posters from my friends, little toys and trinkets representing inside jokes, stickers and koosh balls and photographs. I took my bag to all my auditions, keeping it near me at all times. This little bunch of talismans kept me sane.

Now, as a writer, I still have talismans. Writing is challenging. Writing can be lonely. Writing can even, yes, make me nervous. (Deadlines! A too-long manuscript! Self-doubt!) My writing talismans are like little good luck charms that help me through the dark times. I can look at them sitting on my desk and feel instantly better. They remind me of friends, family, inside jokes, road trips. Sometimes I'll even take one or two with me to the library if I'm writing outside the house.

I asked the other Apocalypsies if they have writing talismans, too, and what do you know? They do. Check out these awesome talismans that keep our Apocalypsies encouraged and writing -- then let us know about your writing talismans in the comments!

Gina Rosati

I write in my dining room, and it's full of fairies, crystals, and colored glass. AURACLE mentions several different metaphysical elements, and while I was researching various topics, I fell in love with crystals. Oh, the pretty and the shiny! People have tapped into the energy of crystals for thousands of years and modern technology uses them still (you've heard of a quartz crystal watch?) I keep a bunch of crystals on my windowsill in the sun, around my desk, and I have chunks of quartz crystal and citrine I take with me on trips.

Tiffany Schmidt

Talismans and good luck charms are a major element in SEND ME A SIGN and the longer I worked on the book, the more I found myself absorbing my main character’s superstitions. I catch myself collecting and ascribing mystical properties to things I own way too often. So, since I couldn’t choose a favorite or most important talisman, I’m going to tell you about my most recent.

This necklace was given to me just a few weeks ago—on June 4th to be exact. It was a gift from a dear friend who had seen it in a store soon after she finished reading SEND ME A SIGN. Not only does the dandelion on the necklace mirror the cover my book, but lucky necklaces play a role in the story.

After buying the necklace, Jen held onto it, waiting for the “perfect moment” to give it to me—and she DID choose perfectly, she gave it to me the day before I left for NYC and BEA. The day before my first two author appearances at the Apocalypsie BEA event and the Teen Author Carnival. It was the perfect good luck charm—I could fidget with it when I got nervous, and it was a simple reminder hanging around my neck all day: people believe in me and my book.

Even better – It matched my outfit!

Tom Ryan

I'm glad you sent the reminder email - I'm in the middle of driving across country (relocating) and totally forgot about your request! I'm attaching a photo of my talisman - it's my avocado green rotary phone from the 70s that a friend of mine gave me a few years ago. It's had a prominent home on my desk ever since - eventually I'd like to wire it to work as an iPhone receiver, but in the meantime I just love picking it up and absentmindedly fiddling with it when working through a plot hole or characterization problem. I'm also a sucker for anything 50s to 70s vintage/retro, and it is absolutely my favourite shade of green!

Nikki Loftin

In the summer of 1998, I entered a contest for creative nonfiction named for and judged by the amazing Texan writer John Graves. To my surprise, I was announced as the winner that fall, and hastily sent a thank you letter to the judge himself.

This note is what eventually came back to me.  I taped it to the inside of my computer desk, right next to my monitor, where I can see it – where I read it, again, every single writing day.

I’m sure Mr. Graves had no idea his short note would become one of my writing talismans.

Even though the first paragraph is the one praising my writing, the second paragraph is what has kept me going as a writer for so many years. It reads:

I would say “Stick with it,” for you have a perceptive eye and a feel for words and meanings. But sticking with writing is not exactly a matter of choice - you either have to write or you don’t. Most of those who don’t have to eventually quit trying, but I suspect you’re one of those who will keep on.

It feels like I have a mentor looking on, when I show up each morning at the page. On those days when I feel the waves of self-doubt coming on, I turn my head slightly to the left, read what one great writer had to say to me thirteen years ago, and keep on writing.

Am I one of those who will keep on? I suspect Mr. Graves was right all along.

Kathleen Peacock

I have a few different good luck charms around my desk—a small action figure of Enid from Ghost World, a stuffed puppy nicknamed “Kyle,” a figurine of Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. Lately, though, I’ve been using my late grandfather’s pocket watch as a sort of talisman. When I get really stressed or can’t figure out a plot point, I use the watch as a sort of worry stone. Something about the weight of it and the words engraved inside—my grandmother telling him she loved him—is reassuring.

Claire Legrand

Like Kathleen, I have several talismans on my desk--a ceramic Loch Ness Monster, a Dammit Doll (Google it!), jade tiger and dragon figurines--and a sparkly plush unicorn named Squishy. As anyone remotely familiar with me knows, I love unicorns. Nay, I adore them. And one day, my friend, writing buddy, and soul sister Kait Nolan sent me a unicorn as a wonderful surprise gift. He is white and pink and sparkly, and he is wonderful for snuggling when one is feeling doubtful about one's writing. When naming him, I was inspired by Dory in Finding Nemo: His name is Squishy. And he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy (the unicorn!).

Jay Kristoff

I don’t really have an object, but I do have a sort of good luck charm. His name is Samwise (pic attached). He usually sits on my lap when I write. I put a cushion on top of him and then balance my laptop on the cushion, which sounds precarious but actually works pretty well. I call him my ‘muse’ (which annoys the HELL out of my wife)

What about you? Do you keep any writing talismans around your writing space for good luck? Tell us about them and show us photos!


  1. Haha, Jay, in the dedication to my book (Starting from Here) I refer to my old dog as my muse, too. But it was true, especially since it was a dog book. I've since adopted another dog, and she's my faithful companion as I write, too.

  2. I don't really have a talisman, but I generally have a pen clipped to my collar. It makes me feel like a writer and puts me in the mood.